Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Art of Blogging

I was invited to do a guest post about my paintings and how I use them on my food blog by Alisha of The Ardent Epicure. Here's what I said:

I like to make food that tastes good and the way things look is as important as how they taste. Perhaps that because I am a painter who cooks and I am a cook who blogs…

I use my watercolor paintings to illustrate my blog. Sometimes an image has a direct connection to a recipe I post as in my post Buttermilk is Cool,

and sometimes it's a whimsical choice. as in my post for Linguini with Fresh Tomato Sauce.

Recently I found a cookbook published in Vermont in 1954. It's filled with recipes and hints that reflect what was happening in kitchens in the 1950s. I have been combining selections from this cookbook with my paintings to create posts. Here’s one for a Peanut and Bacon Sandwich.

I also design bookmarks, labels and notecards that can be downloaded and printed for free. I call these PIN’s and PIN means Print It Now. When you visit my blog you'll see PIN - Print It Now in the column on the left under the basket of blueberries. I hope you find something there you like.

The words that are in bold are all links that will take you to my food blog and the the post that is referenced.

Carol Egbert

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Iris and Forsythia" complete...

This afternoon I sat out on the deck on this beautiful late summer day and finished adding color to the linoleum print I've been working on and sharing with you.  Here's the way it looked last time as a black and white print....

And here is the finished product....

Iris and Forsythia
hand colored linoleum print - 9" x 12"

I think the color really brings the flowers to life.  I had forgotten how waxy and blendable Prismacolor colored pencils are but they allowed me to play back and forth with colors and values almost as if I were painting.  Completing this piece is motivational to me in continuing with the series.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cynthia's new Painting - phase 3 and 4

Phase 3: I've begun to give depth to the leaves and berries in the painting. (If you scroll down to last week's post you can see my beginnings.) I can see that creating distinct shades of green will be more difficult than I thought. In order to show depth, the various types of vegetation need to look distinct from one another.

Phase 4: Here I've begun to work on the flowers in the painting. First I blocked them out with about four layers of color, with only a hint of depth. Next I will give them more dimension and shading and tone down the brightness a bit. Stay tuned for that.

As you see at the bottom, I'm experimenting with layering two colors of gold on top of each other for the ribbon.

I'm going to have to work on my photography setup. What I have works fine for kirigami, which is just black and white, but paintings aren't showing up well. This painting is much more beautiful in person but glare and color distortion won't show it. I guess I will have to get better lighting and camera. (Sigh) Help! Barbara!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


....of tea bags have gone into the quilt. I haven't been counting the hours, but I am really happy to see the end approaching. Yes, it is still medatative but occasionally feeling a little tedious. I think I will need to sew a border (of teabags of course) around the outer edges. Here's how it looks:

This week I also took my new camera over to AVA Gallery to photograph "Tea Dreams" in place.
The gallery did a great job of hanging it in the window and it's interesting to see it with the "real world" in action behind it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Printing "Iris and Forsythia"

I finished cutting the rest of the printing plate I talked about last week and printed "Iris and Forsythia".  It's always exciting to see what that first print will look like because despite lots of planning it's always a bit of a surprise!

Partially cut soft cut printing plate

So, I gathered up my materials and headed to the kitchen to be near the sink and to use the counter to spread out my work.  

Inking the printing plate

I roll out the Speedball water soluble block printing ink with a 4 inch wide soft brayer, making sure that there is an even coat on the whole surface of the linoleum.  It's easy to see where the ink is because it is shiny and black.  Some of the cut areas pick up ink too and I like the value and textures the lines create.  I have to be careful NOT to get any blobs of  ink on the brayer or they will fill in the incised areas on the plate.

The inked plate with tape for centering the print on the paper

Next, I move the printing plate over to where I have measured out rough masking tape guidelines for the printing plate and paper so that the prints will be consistently centered.  In this case, I don't have to worry about being too careful.  If I were using a multiple number of plates or doing a reduction print where I would print the same plate several times, I would have to construct a more elaborate registration box.

Rubbing the print

When the paper is centered on the plate, I use a wooden spoon to carefully rub the back of the paper to make sure all areas of the plate have printed.  In this case, I'm using drawing paper because I intend to hand color at least one print with colored pencils.  You can just see the ghost of the print showing up through the paper--I usually peek underneath to make sure it looks good before I pull the print off the plate.

"Iris and Forsythia"
9" x 12" • linoleum print

And here it is, the first print, called the "Artist Proof".  It is meant to be a test print and if the artist is pleased with it and it needs no more cutting, it becomes the standard for the edition.  I want each of the prints to be as exactly the same as possible and I might discard any that do not meet this standard.  But, in this case, I'm pretty pleased!  I do think that if I had treated both ferns as I did the one on the right, the print would be more balanced in terms of black areas.  When I add color this print after it is dry I will be able to compensate for this if I choose to do so.
I pulled 13 prints and after printing 6 of them I had to take time out to wash and dry the plate since it had gotten pretty scummy.  I intend to print some more later.  It can take several days before the ink is completely dry.   Then, when there's no chance of smudging, I will have the joy of hand coloring one using colored pencils....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Making Prints from my Cards

In recent years, many people have told me that they buy my greeting cards to frame. A few weeks ago one of my shopkeepers asked me if I could pretty please begin making reproduction prints to sell in his shop - so I began exploring this yesterday.

I spent the day formatting several of my quotation card designs to fit into an 11x14 matted frame. Things were going OK until my brandy new Epson printer went on the fritz and refused to load the paper (me pulling my hair and dancing around, squeeling expletives.) I've called and emailed Epson to no conclusion so now I'm thinking of just having them printed by someone else. Once I get this all figured out, I will add them to the products I sell on Etsy and elsewhere.

I must say, they do look very nice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bookish Love

This large kirigami mandala is a commissioned piece for a couple who reads a lot. The flowers emerging from the books represent the flowering of knowledge. The flames around the heart are for passion. The butterflies signify the transformative nature of learning and of marriage.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almost There

I have just about completed the metal flower sculptures. I need four hands (obviously must borrow two more) to assemble the final stem with 5 leaves attached and then it will be finished.
It will be interesting to see how all the components work together....I really won't know that until I can assemble them on site, but I'm hoping it will all come together.

I've placed two of the completed flowers outside to see how they fare in the elements. So far, so good. I plan to install the whole piece next week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cynthia's new Painting - phase 2

Phase two of my new small painting looks like this.

Phase one was basically blocking out all the areas with a base color so I could see what I was doing. I began with darker colors because I decided to work dark to light on this one. Since the background is dark, it was somewhat difficult to photograph, so I skipped it.

Phase two was a process of filling each area with the basic colors I want them to eventually be. With the exception of the two flowers, which I am still deliberating about, this has been completed.
I will continue to refine this process in phase three. Stay tuned.

Summer Bird

I rediscovered this image when I was searching through digital files.

This began as a drawing down with a quill pen. I scanned it and used Photoshop to make a 'digital sandwich' with about twelve layers of color. I cut through layers, digitally, in a manner similar to that used to make molas in the San Blas Islands, to create this image. So there you have my complex explanation for a simple image.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sketching on an Acrylic Background

Yesterday, while lounging blissfully in the sun on my little deck by the stream, winking sunlight overhead, birds calling, bees buzzing... I sketched a design onto one of the background canvases I've recently painted. Almost immediately, I realized that it would be too small. I am supposed to be practicing for the large 4'x5' canvas and this is a weenie 11x14" canvas. Why? Because I have the feeling my first ones won't be very successful and I'm a coward. Fortunately, I'm beginning to see this propensity for staying in my comfort zone as unproductive. I promise to to move up in size as I go along.

Technique: This sketch was done with a white charcoal pencil on the very dark surface of the acrylic. In places I wanted to erase, I took a cotton swab, dipped in water and then squeezed out, and lightly stroked it over the pencil marks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kirigami Keepsake Cards

Cynthia Emerlye: Every several months I spend a day or two making a batch of kirigami keepsake cards to sell on Etsy or at shows. They aren't really money makers for me but they are great little items for catching people's attention. Whenever people come to my Itty Bitty Art show, they tend to gravitate to the cards. Most people buy them for weddings and special occasions. They are something people keep for years and show others - so they are worth doing once in a while.

For the past two days I've been renewing my stash of kirigami cards with a dozen new cuttings. Here's a sample:
The card closes up to either a heart or cone shape. I hand stamp and hand guild the outside so it looks very formal. When opened, the cutwork pops out dimensionally. So fine.

I've made some custom stands to display these cards because they don't stand up on their own like a normal card.

A couple of times - back when I was happy to have anyone buy anything from me - I've had clients commission dozens of cards for a wedding. No more. This is hell in a little package. I call it "sweat shop kirigami." They are sweet to look at, though.

Well, back to some serious painting work.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In-process Soft Cut Print

For the past several weeks I've been working on the linoleum prints I mentioned way back in March.  In fact, I spent last Friday night at Tip Top Open Studios cutting away on my soft cut linoleum and visiting with Larissa from across the hall.
The first step in making a print is making drawings, in this case, pencil sketches of flowers.  It's a good time of year to be doing this!  I have many small drawings--pansies, forsythia, iris, day lilies, clover, black eyed susans, daisies and many un-named wild flowers I've found on our morning walks.  Plus I have lots of sketches that just don't want to work.
For this print, I chose forsythia, iris and ferns to play with in making a design....

Flower pencil sketches

After the drawings are chosen, the next step is creating a pleasing composition for the print.  This means tracing the sketches and some tweaking here and there.   Some sections of the sketches may be repeated for emphasis and I try to balance what will be cut out of the block to leave the paper white and what will be left to hold the ink and print black.  I want to have some black, some white and some textured gray.  I often add leaves, vines, stems, etc. to fill in empty areas....

Final design on tracing paper

The final design for the print is transferred to the soft cut block in pencil and then Sharpie marker to clearly mark the places that will and will not be cut.

Partially cut soft cut block

The printing plate above is almost finished.  Hopefully you can see the leftover marks of the linoleum cutter in the background.  These will be important when the plate is printed, adding texture to the negative space.  Next week?  Hopefully the finished product!

Home Sweet Townsend Home

My newest kirigami commission:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Quilt Grows.......

The metal flowers are in the final stages and will be ready to be "planted" soon! Epoxy glue to reinforce parts that need to stay together is working well, so the construction, although challenging, hasn't been too crazy.

Meanwhile the tea bag quilt continues to grow, piece by piece. The biggest difficulty is keeping the pieces aligned as it gets bigger. I've drawn a big grid on my work table to keep things at least minimally in line. Here's how it's looking now:

Flight of Fancy

This is a large kirigami mandala, ready to frame. Available to buy on Etsy HERE.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Animal Lovers

This large, hand cut kirigami mandala is a combination cut made as a commissioned anniversary gift for a couple with two dogs and two cats.

Bright Colors - Asian Design

A bold look from my studio.

I needed an image for a post about an adventure in China on my food blog www.CarolEgbert.com. Creating art that works with posts is fun and sometimes a challenge.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I' m realizing that the last time I posted was about this time last year to announce that my work was going to be featured in the Woodstock Sculpturefest. I don't think I ever posted the featured sculpture at that show. So here it is. I',m hoping to have another piece I am presently working on in this years show. Time will tell, I'll keep you posted.

Messing Around with Acrylic Backgrounds

Cynthia Emerlye:
Oh what a glorious mess I've made! My studio is in shambles with paint, rags, and wet canvasses everywhere. This really necessitates the re-designing of my setup. I need more space!

For the past week I've been experimenting with backgrounds for my large canvas (which sits untouched in the bunk room.) It's a good thing I started with smaller, experimental canvases because there is so much I've forgotten from the long ago days of painting with acrylic. For the past century I've been working small - illustrating with pen, pencil and watercolor - and the looseness and forgiving nature of acrylics had been forgotten.

In the beginning of this process, I was quite timid. Watercolor is not very forgiving. You have to get it right the first time. Thus, I've gotten into the habit of working slowly and carefully. I stop and deliberate multiple times before laying down a new color - thinking things through before I proceed. With acrylic, however, if something doesn't work, I can simply paint over it! I knew this in my head, but somehow, the experience of it has beckoned me to loosen up and play more. After days and days of this, I've begun to slosh the paint around much more boldly, trying weird new things to create interesting texture.

I'm not sure many of these will actually make for a good background - most are too busy - but its given me ideas for interior texture and its helped me loosen up and have fun.

While I'm playing Bob Marley or Beethoven and sloshing paint around, my studio companion spends her time napping.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kirigami Wedding Present

I cut a custom kirigami mandala for a client the other day and wasn't completely satisfied with it, so I've tried again. This is a wedding present for a couple who are both mechanical engineers and bicycle riders.

Here is the first one I did, called "Engineering Couple."

And here is the one I did last night, called "The Mechanics of Love."

Which one do you like best?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Quechee Field in July

It's been awhile since I've posted and I cannot say I have a good reason/excuse for that.  Putting the house on the market?  Maybe.  Vacation?  For sure!
But I have been out painting and here is the most recent large landscape.

"July Field, Quechee"

Since I painted this, the field has been mowed and the wild flowers too.  Still, my love for these bountiful, beautiful fields is not diminished and August and September remain....